Comic Book Reviews (Week March 31, 2021): Batman/Catwoman Issue 4, The Final Girls & More!

Batman/Catwoman issue 4 review
Batman/Catwoman issue 4 (Image: DC Comics)

Welcome to my comic book reviews for this week (March 31, 2021). I will be covering Batman/Catwoman issue 4, The Final Girls issues 1-5, Stone Star Season 2 issue 5, and more!

Let’s begin by talking about Batman/Catwoman issue 4 by writer Tom King and artist Clay Mann. I understand the frustration certain readers have with the current story, but personally, I’m enjoying every bit of it. King’s diving into the complex relationship between Batman, Catwoman, and Joker. As I’ve said before, if the Joker is supposed to be the opposite end of the goodness inside Batman, it makes sense for Selina to be attracted (in different ways) to both men because she’s a character always trying to find a balance between her good and bad side. 

The current issue had Helena talk to Penguin, Clayface, and other villains about Selina and the Joker’s relationship. While they couldn’t tell Helena much, it’s clear that what Selina and the Joker shared was quite unique. You can even think of it as a weird bond some people end up sharing because they are in love with the same person. Joker and Bruce are permanently bonded and Selina’s stuck in the middle of it. And while these three are unable to put a stop to whatever weirdness that’s happening in said triangle, the dysfunction is very obvious to outsiders. In my opinion, Andrea’s right when she said Bruce can put a stop to Joker for good. But he refuses not to and that’s why he should be blamed for Joker’s crimes.

Of course, I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen next in the three timelines King’s handling at once. 

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

avengers curse of the man-thing issue 1 review
Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing issue 1 (Image: Marvel Comics)

Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing issue 1

Due to being a fan of writer Steve Orlando, I decided to read Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing issue 1. As someone who has never read a story centering around Man-Thing (and isn’t particularly invested in him as a character), I have to say Orlando kept my attention. I’m now interested in learning more about the Harrower and her relationship to Hordeculture (a group of elderly women specializing in botany and making life tough for the X-Men). Orlando made sure to give readers a quick recap of Man-Thing’s past before setting the stage of his current story talking about his connection to Captain America (they have a lot in common). 

With the second issue ready to bring Spider-Man into the mix, I’ll be staying around.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

The Department of Truth issue 7 review
The Department of Truth issue 7 (Image: Image Comics)

The Department of Truth issue 7

From writer James Tynion IV, even though The Department of Truth issue 7 didn’t feature the main character Cole, it still offered an amazing installment. We got introduced to a kid named Doc Hynes (Doc being an aspirational nickname. He’s not an actual doctor yet) telling Lee Harvey Oswald about his experience with the Men in Black. I liked the history lesson we got involving UFO sightings in America and why Doc choose a different route to uncover what’s happening.

With The Department of Truth getting a live-action adaptation, I can’t wait to see the numerous conspiracy theories and reality manipulation on screen soon. 

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Young Hellboy and the Hidden Land issue 2 review
Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land issue 2 (Image: Dark Horse Comics)

Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land issue 2

From writers Mike Mignola and Thomas Sniegoski, Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land issue 2 was another enjoyable chapter in the four-part miniseries. We learned a bit more about the secrets of the strange island the Professor and Hellboy have found themselves stranded on. Without giving spoilers, there’s more to Scarlett than meets the eye. With an ancient evil rearing its head, things are going to get a lot more interesting. And of course, young Hellboy continues to be adorable.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No. 

Stone Star Season 2 issue 5
Stone Star Season 2 issue 5 (Image: comiXology)

Stone Star Season 2 issue 5

I was provided with a free digital review copy of Stone Star Season 2 issue 5 for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

The finale of the second season of Stone Star gave us the fight readers have been waiting a long time for. After learning it was Volness who killed his father, Dail lashing out at his teacher made a lot of sense. His rage blinded him to the destruction he was causing as he tried to unleash his fury on Volness. Artist Max Dunbar knows how to serve dynamic action sequences, and this issue was no different.

The main characters in Stone Star are broken. They have a lot of emotional baggage to bear. I liked how writer Jim Zub brought out a lot of that during Volness and Dail’s fight. While Dail wanted to avenge his father’s death, Volness talked about Dail going down a path his father refused to. Even the troublesome past of Kikanni’s royal family got dragged into the battle.

After agreeing to finally stop fighting, The Castaways still have a lot of talking to do. I get why Dail’s mad, but, in a sense, he’s focusing on the wrong person. He needs to take down the system that exploits the gladiators to continue offering “entertainment” to the masses.

With Dail opening the door to know more about himself and his powers, there’s still a lot of story to tell. And I hope Zub and his creative team return for a third season soon. 

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Edgar Allan Poe Snifter of Blood issue 6 review
Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Blood issue 6 (Image: AHOY Comics)

Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Blood issue 6

I was provided with a free digital review copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Blood issue 6. The opinions I have shared are my own.

Okay. I need this series to return soon. Even if you aren’t a fan of all the short stories and other content that’s featured, you’re sure to find a handful of fun, weird, and creepy narratives to enjoy. Serving as the finale (for now), issue 6 gave us a retelling of The Masque of the Red Death by writer Tom Peyer, this time existing in the superhero genre.

I enjoyed writer Robert Jeschonek’s ‘Bon-Bon’ quite a lot as it explored the rivalry between Poe and critic Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Apparently, he continued to harm Poe’s reputation even after Poe died. Talk about being petty.

‘Sedate Expectations’ by Lisa R. Jonte offered a creepy little poem about a woman stopping her two older sisters from getting married because she didn’t want to spend her life taking care of her (unborn) nieces and nephews. ‘Your Tourist Dollars’ by writer Matthew Sharpe was… interesting, as it talked about a person’s loneliness.

And I don’t think I could quite understand what happened in ‘When The Sandwich Comes For You’ by writer Robert Jeschonek. Was it about an author not being able to get out of writer’s block and focusing more on what would be commercially popular and won’t what he actually wants to write? I’m not sure.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.  

The Final Girls Issue 1 Cover
The Final Girls issue 1 cover by Sally Cantirino (Image: comiXology)

The Final Girls issues 1-5

I was provided free digital review copies of The Final Girls issue 1-5. The opinions I have shared are my own.

Trigger Warning: This comic book deals with serious themes including sexual assault, suicide, domestic violence, and abuse.

The Final Girls is an incredibly powerful five-issue story that carefully handles personal trauma and a person’s ability to survive. This is a superhero story that focuses on the humanity present in superpowered beings and what our world might look like if people are held accountable for their actions.

From writer Cara Ellison, our main cast includes a group of retired superheroes who have experienced (unfortunately very relatable) problems moving through a patriarchal world as women. These are flawed and real characters, each depicting a different way of how people deal with trauma or tough situations involving those they love. The way Ellison made the powers and personalities of her characters link to certain coping mechanisms is quite impressive.

For example, the shapeshifter Selkie wants to transform into someone else when faced with danger or an uncomfortable situation. Kogarashi or Ko has to come to terms with when and how to use her abilities to absorb the pain of others (used to showcase how women are expected to make others happy without focusing on themselves).

The Final Girls review
The Final Girls (Image: comiXology) – Image edited due to website policy

Set in Scotland (and being inspired by Scottish folklore), the main story involves Scathach, the world’s strongest woman, experiencing sexual assault. She reaches out to the retired superheroine Ko. From there begins a sequence of events as Ko and her wife Bavanshee try to figure out how to acquire justice for Scathach. How will the public react to the world’s strongest woman saying that their beloved hero Claymore sexually assaulted her?

Over the course of the five issues, we see how easily public opinion can be swayed, especially when it comes to online discourse involving women. The narrative themes also include the incredibly problematic idea certain people hold about how survivors of sexual assault must have “asked for it” or were likely sending mixed signals to the person who assaulted them.

I liked how the story shared everyone’s perspectives. We see Scathach struggling to keep herself together while still saving people around the world. We see Claymore going about his life as if he did nothing wrong. One of the more interesting takes involves Claymore’s wife Ash Black and her refusal to believe her friend Scathach. Of course, Ash Black knew deep inside what Claymore had done. I liked how she slowly progressed to see his real face.

Ko’s ex-husband Power was also given a journey to go through. While I wasn’t expecting him to be the one to have an important conversation with Sacthach, I appreciated the moment they shared together. Men have to stand up for what’s right and play their role in dismantling the system that encourages toxic workplaces.

Some of you might side-eye certain narrative decisions, especially one involving how Ko and Bavanshee’s relationship began. However, by the fifth and final issue, you’ll understand why Ellison decided to tell such a story in the manner she did.

Furthermore, talking about the ending, in a note featured in the fifth issue, Ellison makes it clear that this is supposed to be a fantasy. We all know that people aren’t always held accountable in the real-world. However, through The Final Girls she wanted to show something different. And I think that’s a very understandable route to take.

Another thing I liked about this story is the diverse cast. When you think of Scotland, you don’t immediately have PoC in mind. But, as shown in Ellison’s story, Scottish PoC exist in real life. The media just hasn’t done a good job of showing that. It reminded me of what writer Nadria Tucker experienced when wanting to cast more Black people in The CW’s Superman & Lois TV show while filming in Canada. 

As for the visuals, the art by Sally Cantirino and colors by Gab Contreras had a messy feel to it. While not my preference, I do think the visuals complimented the story being told as Ellison and her creative team struck a balance between hard-hitting themes, action, and humor. Music also plays a role in the narrative. We shared exclusive music playlists for The Final Girls yesterday that you should consider checking out. 

The comic book series has been edited by Katie West (who accused writer Warren Ellis of taking advantage of impressionable young women, including herself. You can read more about here and here). 

All in all, the title The Final Girls fits this story perfectly. These characters are survivors just like the countless others in the real-world.

The Final Girls review
The Final Girls (Image: comiXology)

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Which comic books did you read this week? What did you think of Batman/Catwoman issue 4 and The Final Girls?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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